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A South Carolina police officer was shot and killed Wednesday after responding to a call about a suspicious person inside a shopping mall, authorities said.
The officer, Gregory Alia, was called to the Richland Mall in Forest Acres with two other officers around 8 a.m. ET after an employee of a nearby bank reported seeing a suspicious person inside a van in the mall's parking lot, Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy said.
The suspect, 34-year-old Jarvis Hall, took off on foot into the mall, and the officers chased him, Sealy said. Police struggled with the suspect, who allegedly shot Alia.
But the officers were finally able to subdue and arrest him. He was armed with a handgun and a knife at the time, Sealy said.
The police chief was visibly upset as he delivered the news of Alia's death. He said the 32-year-old grew up in the area, was a seven-year veteran of the department and was married with a new baby boy.
Alia was one of only 25 officers on the Forest Acres Police Department, NBC affiliate WIS reported. Forest Acres is a suburb of Columbia, the state capital.
"Our hearts are broken. Forest Acres is a small community, a small police department, we're one big family," Sealy said.
Hall was being questioned Wednesday morning, but had not yet been charged, The Associated Press reported.